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Friday, 5 of March of 2021

Audition Review: 2 Broke Girls – “Pilot”

Are you sure we can’t get the meth addict back? She was really good at cleaning.”

As I suspect I’ll be saying fairly often whenever I watch a new pilot this season (especially this half of the season), I really wanted to like 2 Broke Girls more than I ultimately did. The pilot created the oft-experienced cognitive dissonance where I enjoyed the two leads immensely but the writing just forced them into corners that just weren’t that great and they’re weighed down by a number of factors, including a supporting cast of ethnic stereotypes to pass off as New York City diversity.

But unlike New Girl, where I was generally left feeling adrift in a see of stuff I just didn’t care for, 2 Broke Girl at least earns a few more episodes because of those two immensely likable leads and a shimmer of hope that the writing will improve itself.

We’ll cover the bad first. Surrounding Max and Caroline at their dinner are Oleg, horndog from the former Eastern European bloc (though which part of that bloc is of course not made clear) who cooks, a jive-talking senior citizen named Earl who is/happens to be black who runs the register, and their boss is Han “Bryce” Lee, who speaks in Engrish and is trying to get his citizenship (or at least I think he is) (he probably is) (it doesn’t really matter).

Like I said, this is what is probably passing for inner-city flavor and diversity, and while I would applaud such ethnic diversity in their casting, if all three of them weren’t such painful stereotypes. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Earl is engages in some magical negro action when things get tough, if Oleg actually has an unattractive wife he deeply loves, and if Han/Bryce married some rich heiress, leaving Max and Caroline to run the diner. In fact, I’d be thrilled if the last thing happened in episode 2.

The writing is likewise a problem. While both Dennings and Behrs do the best that they can (particularly Dennings), they’re still left with what amounts to an opening boob joke, three come jokes, a tasing, and a couple of rape jokes (on the upside, this is still a much better ratio than the 2 and Half Men premiere, which landed a number of suicide jokes). Oh, and a horse. And I wouldn’t complain about any of this if (really, I must seem like a prude at this point), well, they were funnier. But since they’re not funny, they stand out just as crude and tired.

All that aside, I really like Max and and Caroline (and their respective performers) enough to stick around for a few more episodes. They’re both likable and nice (a relative difference from CBS’s other comedies), and while I was a bit annoyed by hard-boiled Max turning to puddy around her douchebag boyfriend, I like that the show acknowledged it and used it as a way to show Max’s vulnerability, and give her character some beats in the episode beyond being frustrated with Caroline.

Both women have an immense amount of chemistry with one another that salvages much of the pilot whenever they’re in a scene together, playing off each other instead of just hoping to land a punchline (they rest of the cast, despite being supporting, is less than that). And I’m eager to see how this relationship, both between the characters and the actors, develops.

I think, ultimately, however, I like how sitcom-y the pilot feels, and I don’t mean this in a bad way (far from it, really). I like that the diner set feels a little bit stagey, with lots of different areas for people to make entrances and exits from (with Earl firmly planted in one place). And while the jokes are tired, Dennings and Behrs have an ear for the timing that a traditional sitcom like this requires so that even when the jokes don’t work, they’re well executed.

So while I’m game for a few more episodes, given my lack of options on Monday night (you’re still dead to me, HIMYM), I suspect it’ll be more than a few more.

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • I freely admit that I zoned out just a bit when Max went and visited a friend of hers. What the hell was scene about? I just remember there being two babies but no reason as to why Max was there in the first place.
  • What this man tweeted about the horse.
  • Can CBS really afford for another sitcom from another studio to do well on their network (2 Broke Girls is from Warner Bros.)? I mean, really, they have no sitcoms they can sell in syndication. They should work on that.

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